Fort Worth

Investigation continues into shooting death of TCU football player in Fort Worth's West 7th district

Police have a suspect in custody but have not yet revealed a motive for the fatal shooting

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One person is in custody, accused of gunning down a TCU student in Fort Worth's popular West 7th entertainment district overnight Thursday.

"We typically consider this a fun area to hang out in," Colton Hostetler said visiting the area Friday afternoon.

Wes Smith, a junior finance major at the university who was originally from Germantown, Tennessee, died early Friday morning after police said he was shot several times near the 3000 block of Bledsoe Street.

The shooting death of a TCU student has shocked the city of Fort Worth. Police have made an arrest but what's unclear is why the student was targeted.

Smith's family released a statement saying in part "Wes was truly an amazing and loving son, brother, cousin, and friend to so many. We are heartbroken by his passing…"

TCU Chaplain Rev. Todd Boling said Smith's Kappa Sigma fraternity brothers gathered at the chapel to light a candle in his memory and to honor him.

"He was kind and cared about people and he wanted them to know that," Boling said. "He led bible studies for his fraternity. He was actively involved in bible study for the campus ministries as well.  There's a real sense of loss around how wonderful he was and the fact that he's gone now."

He was a beloved member of our community, and we grieve with his family and friends.

Texas Christian University

Detectives investigating the homicide said Smith was shot as he stood in the street and that the gunman assaulted a woman as he ran away.

21-year-old Matthew Purdy, Jr. has been arrested for the shooting and charged with murder.

Fort Worth Police said Friday morning officers were patrolling the popular entertainment district sometime after midnight when they reported hearing several gunshots. Officers soon located Smith with several gunshot wounds to his upper body.

Witness descriptions helped police identify the suspect nearby.

In the warrant affidavit, the suspect gave police a statement admitting to "approaching Wes, who he didn't know, and shooting him three times."

A clear reason was not given for the shooting, but he told police, "He shot Wes after asking him if he knew his father who was assaulted in the past near 7th street."

The randomness of this shooting has other visitors to the area considering their own safety.

"It's a little bit of a wake-up call to be like hey just because you are familiar with an area keep looking around because you don't know even if it's someplace you are familiar with," Hostetler said.

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Wes Smith, inset

TCU Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Kathy Cavins-Tull announced the news of Smith's murder in a letter sent to faculty, students and staff early Friday morning. In the letter, which was shared with NBC 5, Cavins-Tull said Smith was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.

"The grief in our community is great today," Cavins-Tull wrote. "We are working directly with Wes’ closest friends and classmates. As soon as we have more information, I will send a more formal announcement with ways to gather in support of each other and in honor of Wes."

Smith was also a redshirt freshman on the 2021 Horned Frogs football team. NBC 5's Newy Scruggs asked Jeremiah Donati, TCU’s director of intercollegiate athletics, about Smith's death Friday afternoon during a press conference about the team's season-opening kickoff on Saturday.

"[It's] hard to put into words. We know when a young person loses their life so suddenly and so senselessly it kind of makes a game like this, and a day like tomorrow will be, it just doesn't matter," Donati said. "You feel for his friends, his family. We're certainly thinking about them and praying for them. It's kind of hard to believe. We're all shocked. We're all a little numb. It's going to be a sad day. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a distraction for the family and for us, but we'll have some heavy hearts when we wake up for sure."

"There's nothing that you can say that's going to take away their pain or make it better. And so, what we try to remind them is that it's OK to hurt and it's OK to feel whatever it is that they're feeling. Not to talk themselves out of those feelings but to be present to them and to be in community with one another so that we can support them and help them find some healing in the midst of their pain," Boling said.

TCU said mental health counseling and other resources for students, faculty and staff are available at Jarvis Hall with no appointment necessary. Carr Chapel is also open and staffed with a chaplain.

The suspect, identified by police as 21-year-old Matthew Purdy, remains in custody in the Tarrant County Jail.

According to jail records, Purdy is facing a murder charge and is being held on a $500,000 bond. It's not clear if Purdy has obtained an attorney to speak on his behalf.

NBC 5 News
Matthew Purdy, booking photo.
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